April 16, 2008 Edition

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Waters are receding
but recovery is slow

Vivian Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence County is recovering from yet another round of flooding. For the second time in less than a month Black River spilled over its banks into the surrounding countryside after heavy rainfall last week.

Both the Spring and Black rivers experienced a rise in crest levels, but residents along the Spring River did not experience the flooding that happened during the March rains according to Steve Jones, coordinator for the Lawrence County Office of Emergency Management.

"Spring River crested at 26.4'," Jones said. "The water did not cross Highway 63, and we had no highway closings. Black River had moderate flooding and was almost a foot lower than the last time."

On Friday Black River crested at Black Rock at 28.6 feet before beginning to fall on Saturday. On Tuesday morning the river was at 25 feet and is expected to fall a few inches each day.

Mayor Bud McLaughlin said that all the streets in Black Rock are open once more and that Highway 25 between Black Rock and Powhatan is expected to be open soon.

"Over all we got less water this time around," McLaughlin said. "The Coffey Addition flooded again but less than last time."

Ludie Tapp who lives just below the Powhatan Historic Courthouse said that her yard is once again under water, but this time she and her husband did not have to evacuate.

"We were able to stay in our house this time," she said. "The water came up under our house but not as high as last time. I'm really thankful for that."

FEMA has been in the county to assess flood damage for the last two weeks. FEMA spokesman Bill Lehman said that FEMA is establishing recovery centers to help those seeking disaster relief. A center is currently open in Pocahontas at the community center and Lawrence County residents can seek assistance there. The center is located off Highway 67 and is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Black Rock resident LaDonna Maxie who lives in the Coffey Addition said her home did not flood this time but that others in her neighborhood did. She said she has applied to FEMA for disaster assistance.

"It's a waiting game," she said. "I was told it would take two weeks to find out if I qualify. I've still got a week to go. All I can do is hope."

Lawrence County Farm Service Agency's Rickey Goff said that it is still too early to make an estimate of how much agricultural damage there is in the county.

"Of the estimated 15,000 acres planted in wheat we think over half has been damaged," he said. "We still haven't been able to assess the extent of the erosion to fields and until we can do that we are delaying action."

Farm Service Agency has listed Lawrence County among those counties eligible for Emergency Loan Assistance. Farmers in the disaster areas have until Nov. 28 to apply for loans to help cover their actual losses. Additional information regarding eligibility and other loan requirements can be obtained from the Lawrence County Farm Service Agency.

Several county roads still remain under water and many have significant damage. County officials advise those who encounter flooded roads to not attempt to drive through the water.

"There's a place on one county road where you could drive your pickup truck off into a hole deep enough to lose it," County Judge Alex Latham said on Monday. "The roads are closed for a reason."

Though rain remains in the forecast with the next round predicted for Thursday night and Friday the expected amount is estimated at a half-inch or less and is not expected to significantly impact flooding according to the National Weather Service.

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